Glyndebourne Festival 2022 applies plant-based dyes, salvaged set dressing and recycled show floor

The Wreckers by Ethel Smyth at Glyndebourne Festival 2022

Glyndebourne Festival set to follow Theatre Green Book guidelines

Glyndebourne Festival 2022 opened on 21st May with a new production of Ethel Smyth’s The Wreckers, a show that is a landmark in more ways than one.

The first major, professional staging of the opera in our lifetime is also the first production at Glyndebourne Festival to be designed and created following the baseline principles of the Theatre Green Book, which is bringing theatre-makers together with sustainability experts to set common standards for sustainable theatre.

All four new productions in Glyndebourne Festival’s 2022 season will apply the guidelines, with more material reused from stores, and plans for the disposal or reuse of every component agreed in advance with creative teams.

Plant-based dyes, salvaged set dressing and recycled show floor

The Wreckers tells the story of an impoverished and isolated coastal community who survive by salvaging goods and materials that wash up on their beach. In an echo of this, and inspired by the drive for greater reuse, Glyndebourne took to local beaches in Sussex to salvage items for set dressing during a series of beach cleans undertaken in partnership with Plastic Seaford and Surfers Against Sewage​.

The show floor is made of recycled cargo pallets from the local Brighton & Hove Wood Recycling Project, set up in 1998 as the first scheme of its kind in the country and committed to finding a way to reuse waste timber. The wood will be recycled back to the company, once the show reaches the end of its life.

The Wreckers is also the first production at Glyndebourne Festival to feature costume fabrics dyed using natural dyes made from plants grown in the opera house’s gardens. During 2021, colleagues from the costume department and the garden team collaborated on the development of a new area of the gardens dedicated to growing plants that can be used to create natural dyes for fabric.

Over time, this will help Glyndebourne Festival’s costume department to reduce its use of synthetic dyes.

Stephen Langridge, Artistic Director of Glyndebourne Festival, said: “This production is helping us to reinvent the way we think about making productions at Glyndebourne, an important challenge for us as we continue to work towards our long term goal of becoming carbon neutral in our direct operations.

“We are recording and documenting the whole process of scenery, costume and prop construction so that our making departments and scenery builders can work out how to go even further, and support the creative teams – directors and designers – to realise extraordinary, breath-taking opera in a sustainable manner.”

Glyndebourne working towards net zero targets

Glyndebourne has been working for more than a decade to reduce its environmental footprint and in 2022 celebrates 10 years since the launch of its onsite wind turbine.

Between 2012 and 2021 the turbine produced the equivalent of 105% of the electricity used by Glyndebourne in the same period, a performance that, together with a wide range of energy-saving measures, has resulted in an 83% reduction in Glyndebourne’s energy-related emissions between 2009 and 2020.

In 2021, in conjunction with COP26, the organisation joined the global Race to Zero and committed to halving direct carbon emissions (from a 2019 baseline) by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050.

In the drive to achieve those targets, Glyndebourne announced a new two step approach for 2022 – while continuing to reduce gross carbon emissions it will offset remaining net emissions and invest that money in direct carbon emission reduction plans at Glyndebourne within the following 12 months.

Other new initiatives for 2022 include the phasing out of bottled water to be replaced with water drawn from Glyndebourne’s own natural spring and the installation of 32 new electric vehicle charging points for use by staff and visitors.

Elsewhere, Glyndebourne’s Nether Wallop restaurant has been remodelled to offer sustainable, ‘plant-forward’ dining in partnership with Waste Knot who rescue surplus vegetables in order to reduce food waste.



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